Every restaurant website has one main goal and that is to attract customers. All too often, I see poorly designed restaurant websites that are missing the key ingredients needed to successfully convert visitors to customers.
What are the key ingredients in a successful restaurant website? Here are the 5 things that every restaurant website needs to have to maximize its chances of converting website traffic into paying customers.
1. Map and Directions
Don’t make it difficult for people to find where your restaurant Sushi is located. Instead of only listing the address on your website, display an easy-to-read map and directions, so that your customers can quickly find your restaurant. The easiest and quickest way to display a map to your restaurant is to use Google Maps and embed it on your website.
2. An Accessible Restaurant Menu
If your restaurant website doesn’t include the menu with the prices – do it now! Your menu is the main marketing tool on your website and your opportunity to make mouths water, so don’t forget to include some enticing pictures of your dishes.
The key thing here is to make your menu accessible. All too often I see restaurants take the lazy approach and upload a PDF copy of their menu. PDFs take an agonizingly, long time to load, especially if people are trying to view your menu from their mobile phones. PDFs also provide no search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your website.
My advice is to take the extra time to create a dedicated menu page on your website. Make sure your menu page includes descriptions of the food, any specials or promotions and appealing photos of your dishes.
3. A Photo Gallery of your Restaurant and Food
People love to see what the restaurant looks like before they decide to eat there. That is why every restaurant website needs to have a photo gallery. Hire a professional photographer to come during one of your restaurant’s busy times and capture the ambiance, decor and dishes that make your restaurant unique. Then display the photos on your website in a simple photo gallery.
Pictures are worth a thousands words and great pictures are invaluable for convincing people to come to your restaurant.
4. An Effective, Restaurant Homepage
Your homepage is the most important page on your website because it makes the first impression. Within seconds of arriving to your homepage, a person will decide if it is worth their time to look through the rest of your site.
So how do you make sure your homepage is engaging?
Firstly, your homepage needs to display a prominent photo of your restaurant. Pick a really great picture of your restaurant or perhaps a signature dish and make sure it is the first thing people see when they come to your website.
You also need to have some well-written copy to complement your image. The copy should tell people what your restaurant is about and how it is different from other restaurant experiences. Make sure the content is short and compelling. If the content is too long, people will simply not take the time to read it.
Finally, beside your main image or your marketing copy, you need to include a strong call to action. A call to action is a link or a button that encourages the person viewing your homepage to click to another page. Examples of good calls to actions for a restaurant website would be:
- View our delicious menu and weekly specials (links to your menu page)
- Take a tour of our restaurant (links to your photo gallery page)
- Make a reservation for your next event (links to your contact us page)
5. Reservation Information on Every Page
Every restaurant website needs a dedicated area for making reservations on each page of their website.
If you are able to install an online reservation system on your restaurant website, that would be the ideal solution. Another way to accept reservations online is to use OpenTable.com which is free to use. However, if you don’t want to bother with online reservations at the moment, just display a phone number that people can use to make a reservation directly.
The main point here is to make the reservation information highly visible on every page. The most effective place to put your reservation info is at the top of your website, near your main navigation. This makes the information easy to spot for your visitors and they will appreciate you for it.
Bonus tip: Hours of Operation
It is a common mistake for many restaurant websites to not have their hours of operation posted. Showing the hours of operation of your restaurant saves your customers a phone call and also saves your staff from having to answer the phone many times throughout the day.